Domain Test Series v New Zealand
Experienced Siddle gifted Boxing Day squad spot
Victorian workhorse Peter Siddle joins Australia Test squad for Boxing Day clash with Kiwis following injury to Josh Hazlewood
Sam Ferris in Perth
17 December 2019, 12:00 PM AEST
Australia's selectors have gone for experience and local knowledge by drafting Peter Siddle into the squad for the Boxing Day Test against New Zealand.
Siddle replaces Josh Hazlewood, who has been ruled out of the second Domain Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground with a hamstring injury and will be racing against time to be fit for the New Year's finale in Sydney.
A veteran of 67 Tests including seven at the MCG, Siddle is the only addition to the squad that defeated the Black Caps by 296 runs in the series opener at Perth Stadium.
"He is a proven Test match performer with an exceptional knowledge of the MCG which will be a valuable part of our preparation," said national selector Trevor Hohns.
Siddle played three Ashes Tests this winter as Australia retained the urn on English soil for the first time in 18 years.
But the 35-year-old has not played a Test in Australia since November 2016 against South Africa at the WACA Ground, where he suffered a back injury and missed the rest of the Test summer.
While Siddle joins the squad as the fifth specialist fast bowler, the race to take Hazlewood's place appears to be between Victoria's James Pattinson and Queenslander Michael Neser.
Both Pattinson and Neser have been part of the Test setup this summer, supporting the outstanding pace trio of Pat Cummins, Mitch Starc and Hazlewood.
Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting expects Pattinson to come in for Hazlewood and play his first Boxing Day Test in four years.
"Neser has been around the squad but I think going into Melbourne, Patto's home ground, he's played a lot of cricket there, he probably understands the conditions better than Michael Neser does," Ponting told cricket.com.au last week in Perth.
"(Pattinson) is the obvious one and I think he will play."
Pattinson made his Test debut in 2011 but has played only 19 Tests in the past eight years having battled with injuries, predominantly to his back.
But now that Pattinson is fit and firing, head coach Justin Langer says the right-armer will be "jumping out of his skin" to play in the Boxing Day Test.
"He's always hungry," Langer said. "Anyone who knows 'Patto', you've never seen energy like it.
"He's got the drive. He's said after his back surgery he'll do anything to play Test cricket again.
"It's a real credit he's got back to that."
However, both Pattinson and Neser could play at the MCG after Langer floated the idea of playing five specialist bowlers.
The MCG pitch in recent years has been on the flatter side and favoured batters, which has led to Langer contemplating playing an extra bowler.
If the selectors went that way and picked five bowlers, one of middle-order pair Matthew Wade or Travis Head would be the likely batter to drop out of the XI.
"If the wicket's like it's been in the last few years, we might even be able to play four quicks and a spinner," said Langer.
"There's lots of combinations.
"It's nice to see Marnus (Labuschagne) and Travis Head bowling … that gives us a good combination as well."
Australia squad for Boxing Day Test: David Warner, Joe Burns, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Matthew Wade, Travis Head, Tim Paine (c, wk), Pat Cummins, Mitch Starc, Nathan Lyon, James Pattinson, Michael Neser, Peter Siddle
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Domain Test Series v New Zealand
Australia squad: David Warner, Joe Burns, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Matthew Wade, Travis Head, Tim Paine (c, wk), Pat Cummins, Mitch Starc, Nathan Lyon, James Pattinson, Michael Neser, Peter Siddle
New Zealand: Todd Astle, Tom Blundell, Trent Boult, Colin de Grandhomme, Lockie Ferguson, Matt Henry, Tom Latham, Henry Nicholls, Jeet Raval, Mitchell Santner, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, BJ Watling (wk), Neil Wagner, Kane Williamson (c)
First Test: Australia won by 296 runs in Perth
Second Test: December 26-30, MCG (Seven, Fox & Kayo)
Third Test: January 3-7, SCG (Seven, Fox & Kayo)